back to article Techies CAN sue Google, Apple, Intel et al accused of wage-strangling pact

Employees at top Silicon Valley companies can sue bosses accused of entering a secret pact that kept salaries down, a judge in California has ruled. The lawsuit claims that between 2005 and 2007 Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm entered into non-compete agreements to end the practice of poaching of staff …


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  1. RedneckMother


    So, Steve Jobs was an a**hole? And other moguls were, too? They took advantage of PEOPLE? I'm shocked!

    1. LarsG

      Re: surprise?

      Come on, it looks like they ALL agreed to it, only Jobs can't answer any questions now,whereas the others would probably take you to court if you even suggested they were involved. Hence they do not have the finger pointed at them.

      1. fandom

        Re: surprise?

        "ALL"? In the article it says that Palm's boss told Jobs to go fly a kite

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Late Steve Jobs named as prime mover in shafting his workers .."

    It's Dead .. Dead Steve Jobs is the moniker..

    He wasn't late .. in fact I bet if you'd asked him, he'd say he was a tad early.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Late Steve Jobs'

      Incorrect: "The late Steve Jobs" is the correct quote, and notice that the 'l' in late is in lower case.

  3. -tim

    This effects my pay on the other side of the world

    So much for "Do no Evil". Their illegal activity put an artificial downward pressure on the pay of everyone in Silicon Valley and the entire industry. Maybe there should be a class action suit against them all by every IT professional in the world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't be evil!

      It's "Don't be evil". Not "Do no evil". Nothing to do with monkeys!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't be evil!

        They are all tw@ts and so were the idiot poor people who enriched them. Stay at home and hack something subversive like TOR or Satoshi you sad tw@ts!

        1. FrankAlphaXII

          Re: Fail for your fail

          If you think Tor is subversive, you should probably check its provenance.

          Tor was originally a United States Navy NRL project (One of Code 5500's), called TOR, I remember when the website for the TOR client was hosted on one of SPAWAR East's servers. I'm also fairly certain DISA controls a good number of the exit nodes still.

          So no, not very subversive. And with the added bonus of being designed by some of the same people you probably strongly dislike. Paid for by people you probably like less, as well as the Swedish government (Go figure. Their intelligence officers probably use it to communicate with agents).

        2. Ralph B
          Big Brother

          Re: Don't be evil!

          The "Don't Be Evil" motto is anyway not directed at Google themselves. It is rather a message to their users - as in "Don't Be Evil Because We Will Tell The Authorities All About It."

      2. Javapapa

        Re: Don't be evil!

        Most motivational experts will tell you that the mind cannot process a negative imperative. For example, if I tell you, "Don't think of pink dancing elephants", you will probably think of nothing else for a few moments.

        So in effect, Google management and staff have motivated themselves subconsciously by the imperative, "Be evil".

        Explains a lot.

        1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

          most motivational experts

          Javapapa, if your claim is factual regarding what most motivational experts will tell you, then most motivational experts are wrong. The mind can certainly process negative imperatives, e.g. “Thou shalt not kill”. (Even those people who do not heed such imperatives still had their minds process them, if only to reject them.)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Part of a lawsuit is being able to declare damages. How does one determine damages? Nothing says that any of the individuals bringing forth a lawsuit would have been hired by another company.

    Also, there just was no cold calling by recruiters, that didn't stop someone from actively putting their resume in at one of the listed companies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's the beauty of this

      Since there's no way to accurately calculate the damages, the sky's the limit as far as the lawyers are concerned, and the companies involved have the deepest pockets around.

      The lawyers are probably already busy perusing Gulfstream catalogs during their lunch hour, and hiring the sort of real estate agents that deal with the listing and sale and private islands.

      1. wowfood

        Re: That's the beauty of this

        "Well this has been going on for, from OUR evidence, at least 10 years. In the years prior o that, employees were generally being offered 10k per year more to jump ship, as well as a bonus of 10k for jumping ship. Using these figures, and the fact one of these deals may go down every year for given employees, based on evidence of this one employee here, we can safely aassume that everyone on their "do not poach" lists could have recieved similar offers. so that's 20k per year effectively over 10 years, 200k per plaintiff, and because of the harm in the long term this amount should be doubled, if not trebled.

        600k per plaintiff, 100 plaintiffs, we want 6 million 60 million plug lawyers fees.

        I imagine it'll go something like that.

        1. Anon the mouse

          Re: That's the beauty of this

          20k for the first year, then that 10k(the rise only)+20k, for the second, and so on, surely. They would have had each of those payrises permanently.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's the beauty of this


          That would never hold water in a court. You can't use a blanket approach for every case and 200k pay raise over 10 years is not even conceivable for most of the plaintiffs. They still have to prove damages and that includes that they would have been offered the job that the recruiter never called them about. The defense can easily say that the plaintiffs could have applied for those jobs and had an equal opportunity at them. They didn't apply, they didn't get the job they never applied for. I can't complain about not winning the lottery when I don't buy a lottery ticket if my numbers were called.

          The defense can ask the court to order the plaintiffs to pay their legal bills if they lose. If the first few people lose, how many afterwards will even think about suing. I expect the defendants to go through the lawsuits and they will string some out and the easy ones they will push to get to court first just so they can win and get the plaintiffs to pay the legal bills of the defense and then the plaintiffs lawyer will also be looking for his money too. before you know it, that $10k that they think they should have received for a job they never applied for will be gone and then some for legal bills.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's the beauty of this


        The sky is not the limit. First the plaintiffs have to prove they would have received the job that they were never called about. That by itself is hard to do. Then they have to prove that they would have made X amount of more money. Once again, it was over a job that they were never called about.

        The lawyers will make some money, the plaintiffs will be lucky if they see much of any of it. A good number might just see a legal bill at the end of the day they get to pay and nothing else.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: That's the beauty of this

          > First the plaintiffs have to prove they would have received the job that they were never called about.

          Actually I don't think that's the case. There is more to it than "I didn't get a better paid job because company B refused to hire me because I worked for company A". IF there were free trade in employment, then if company B were offering better pay, they'd gain staff from company A. Company A would then either have to put up with losing all their good staff, or up their pay so thet people stopped moving to company B.

          Thus these non-compete clauses don't just avoid the pay rises available for switching jobs, they also reduce the pay all round even for those that don't switch.

          As an analogy. Imagine if all the big supermarkets colluded to keep the price of goods high. There's then no opportunity for you to shop around for better prices. But remove those non-compete agreements and they have to compete for your custom - with better prices, better quality, or better service (in other words, better "value" for whatever combination of attributes they decide to compete on). Even if you don't shop at (say) Tesco, just the fact that they are there means that ASDA next door has to keep it's value up (prices down). So without actually shopping at Tesco, you gain from them being there and there being no non-compete clause between them.

          Put another way, ADSA managers have to look at prices and the equation is along the lines of "if we charge more than X then customers will go to Tesco". Similarly, employers will have to thing along the lines of "if we pay less than X then our staff will leave and go to <someone else>".

          This is why collusion to control markets is illegal, and why these employees can claim damages even if they weren't planning to switch employer.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge

    Suing, a career enhancing move?


    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Suing, a career enhancing move?

      Class action worth a few tens of billions - consequential damages, all of that?

      That's certainly career enhancing for the lawyers. This one is going to run and run.

    2. Eguro

      Re: Suing, a career enhancing move?

      You're right! We shouldn't hold people accountable; not when they have power.

      We should really just give up and say "Please Sirs, don't do it again, pretty please"

      Sue the fuckers and the take your collective smart-arses and start a company of your own (with the millions from the lawsuit). Going from this article, that'll be pretty much every senior employee from 4-6 companies. Surely they should be able to compete, what with knowing all about their competitors

    3. Velv

      Re: Suing, a career enhancing move?

      I'm curious why Winkypop has been down voted. Suing employers will not be career enhancing.

      Most companies carry out pre-employment screening and court cases immediately raise red flags irrespective of the merits of the case. This is especially true of the "senior" staff who would have been affected by the underhand agreement.

      I'm not for one second suggesting the companies and individuals should get away with it, but Winkypop is right, suing is Martyring ones future employment prospects.

      1. Winkypop Silver badge

        Re: Suing, a career enhancing move?

        Exactly Mr/Ms/Miss Velv,

        Have a beer.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Suing, a career enhancing move?

          Or indeed Mrs!


  6. auburnman

    Lucy Koh again?

    Bloody Hell, can California only afford one Judge?

    (Yes yes, I'm sure she is the Technology cases specialist Judge or something like that. I just thought there'd be controls against one Judge overseeing multiple cases against the same companies.)

  7. Gordan

    Monopoly on Jobs

    No pun intended in the title, but this sounds essentially like a monopoly on jobs. Has it really come to this? Wow...

  8. Jim 59

    Nice one Ed

    Colligan held firm however, and turned Jobs down flat. "Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal," he replied.

    Now that's what I call "Don't be Evil".

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Nice one Ed

      Yes, and can I work for him?

  9. LDS Silver badge

    Strange they didn't set agreements to keep pay low for CEOs and upper executives too...

    ... after all that's shareholders money also, aren't they?

  10. Renan "C#" Sousa

    This makes the news about Google & gentrification in San Francisco even more awkward. San Francisco residents are being driven out of their communities by rich UNDERPAID tech workers.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The late Steve Jobs was a key mover in the underhand pacts, it is claimed."

    Surprised? No!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money, the root of all evil!

    1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      two missing words

      Obviously!, it was love of money that Paul identified as the root of all evil.

  13. Tim Brummer

    I don't see anything illegal here, the firms didn't set wages or blacklist job applicants, they just agreed not to head hunt each others workers.

    1. asdf


      Collusion takes many forms. Agreeing explicitly to anything with a competitor can be touchy.

  14. RTNavy

    Lawyer Money

    At least Tech Lawyers will have some nicer paysday.

  15. Sheep!

    Low paid wages from companies like Google? Aren't there currently rock-throwing protests over gentrification due to the HIGH wages they pay? How can both things be true?

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